Chief Planning Manager Paul S. Lewis has served the City of Orlando for nearly 30 years, working his way up through the ranks from post-college intern to the department's highest position.
His career reached a milestone moment in late February, when Lewis was named to the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows, one of the highest honors in the planning profession.
Born in Washington, D.C., with a father who worked for the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense, Lewis moved at age 9 with his family to Altamonte Springs when his father retired in 1972.
Greater Orlando has been home ever since. Lewis graduated from Lake Brantley High School, earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Florida State University in 1986, and a Master's of Public Administration from the University of Central Florida in 1988.
When he moved back home from FSU in 1986 to pursue the Master's degree, Lewis' dad said to get a job. He found an internship position with Orlando's Planning and Development Department that year, earning a whopping $3.35 per hour.
A key mentor in Lewis' maturation as a planner was Rick Bernhardt, then-director of Orlando's planning and development, who between 1982 and 1998 ushered in a new growth management plan for the city, a new land development code and complete rezoning of Orlando, among other lasting accomplishments.
"Having Rick as a mentor, you really wanted to work for him," Lewis said. "The planning philosophy we are using now was created under him. It's gratifying to continue working through a philosophy he helped establish."
As an avid cyclist, Paul S. Lewis has completed the Horrible Hundred cycling marathon three times.
Those marathons may seem like a breeze at times compared to the time and effort Lewis invested in shaping community and neighborhood plans for Medical City, Baldwin Park and Parramore.
In the mid-1990s, Lewis was invited to help develop the Southeast Orlando Sector Plan, which included the annexation of Lake Nona. Still a relatively young planner at the time, Lewis described this three-year planning project as a make-or-break situation for his career.
"I think we've done some pretty good work out in that Lake Nona area," he said. "Through that new urbanist plan, we've created some very cool neighborhoods."
A resident of Conway, Lewis is a big fan of comic book superheroes. He favors the Marvel family of characters as a whole, while also following DC Comics' Batman storylines.